What's your company's top challenge? It's a simple question, but how often do managers step back and look at the big picture?
ThomasNet recently surveyed 3,000+ U.S. businesses, and compiled the results in an “Industry Market Barometer.” The poll asked a variety of questions, but the most intriguing to me were these:
* What are the top three challenges your firm is facing today?
* In the first half of 2011, how will you be directing your resources (e.g., staff, budget, time)?
The top challenges? Some 68 percent selected “customers cutting back/going out of business,” followed by “domestic competition” at 46 percent, and “overseas competition” at 29 percent.
Where are companies putting their resources to meet those challenges? Related to the “customers cutting back” — some 66 percent said they are directing resources to customer retention.
Regarding “domestic competition,” 71 percent are increasingly directing resources to get business in new industries, 46 percent to pursuing business in new U.S. geographies, and 43 percent to competing more aggressively in their core market.
The majority of companies are focused on keeping and expanding their share of the U.S. market. But with so many firms looking at jumping into the next hot market (medical? sustainable energy?), what niche markets will be left where suppliers can differentiate themselves and avoid becoming commoditized?
Loepp is editor of Plastics News and author of “The Plastics Blog.”